Commanding Respect: Glissa, The Traitor

James Blevins
August 24, 2017

When Commander 2015 came out, Meren was the best deck you could get. Her rise to fame, pushed another awesome lady into the shadows: Glissa, the Traitor. We are going to bring all to perfection through the Glory of Phyrexia.

Black and Artifacts are great at recurrison. While Meren is great, she is basically an enchantment. No one really uses her in combat, and she doesn't stop people from coming at you. Glissa on the other hand is not only a 3/3 for three, but has first strike, and deathtouch. She is getting through, and she is definitely deterring attacks. As a true Phyrexian, she offers us an outright oppressive strategy, at a faster pace than Meren. We are going to descend on our opponents like a Virulent Plague. 

Glissa, the TraitorJames Blevins1st Brutalizer Exarch Butcher of Malakir Conduit of Ruin Copper Myr Corpse Cur Ichorclaw Myr It That Betrays Sylvok Replica Kuldotha Forgemaster Leaden Myr Marionette Master Metalwork Colossus Moriok Replica Moriok Rigger Myr Battlesphere Myr Retriever Necropede Phyrexian Digester Phyrexian Soulgorger Plague Myr Priest of Yawgmoth Scarecrone Scrap Trawler Shimmer Myr Soldevi Adnate Solemn Simulacrum Bojuka Bog Command Tower Forest Ghost Quarter Golgari Rot Farm Jungle Hollow Llanowar Wastes Swamp Temple of Malady Temple of the False God Tree of Tales Vault of Whispers Vivid Grove Vivid Marsh From Beyond Commander's Sphere Genesis Chamber Golgari Signet Krark-Clan Ironworks Lifecrafter's Bestiary Mask of Avacyn Mask of Memory Mind Stone Orbs of Warding Smokestack Sol Ring Swiftfoot Boots Tangle Wire Throne of Geth Trading Post Unwinding Clock Vedalken Orrery Wayfarer's Bauble Worn Powerstone Darksteel Forge Caress of Phyrexia Crux of Fate Cultivate In Garruk's Wake Jarad's Orders Kodama's Reach Ruinous Path Triumph of the Hordes Beast Within Krosan Grip Putrefy Dawn of the Dead Dictate of Erebos Grave Betrayal Grim Feast Palace Siege


This build of Glissa focuses on Smokestack to whittle down our opponents' resources. With Glissa, we are going to ensure we have a steady supply of artifacts in the graveyard by using Smokestack. While we are sacrificing our artifacts to Smokestack, our opponents are probably sacrificing creatures, which lets us rebuy our artifacts we tossed away. That is quite the loop. It's a huge removal target and we can even rebuy it often with Glissa.  Add Butcher of Malakir or Dictate of Erebos and we basically destroy all creatures each turn.All the permanents our opponents sacrifice return under our control with It that Betrays. Anything they sacrifice to Smokestack is now ours. It that Betrays is just great in general, nice fetchland, I’ll take that.  Grave Betrayal offers us our opponents creatures. These synergies lets us grind the game down to nothing.

To handle our own Smokestack sack attack, we need cheap  creatures so we don’t lose lands. One of the things we are going to do is use those sweet infect artifact creatures. Cards like Corpse Cur, Plague Myr, Ichorclaw Myr, and Necropede are exactly the kind of thing we are looking for.  Cheap, expendable, artifact creatures that bring in some pain. While infect isn't our primary win condition; they are huge threats if left alone. They often distract our opponents; while we work up to being the only player with permanents.

Sylvok Replica gives us flexible removal and his requirement of paying one green, rather than tapping, let’s us use his ability on his first turn in play. Someone who can be a powerhouse in Glissa is Marionette Master. We are going to be sacrificing our own artifacts often, and she will be doing lots of damage to our opponents. Scrap Trawler is just going tog et us double the artifacts back. Scarecrone is another recursion engine and can be recurred himself.

Genesis Chamber is also in the deck. At first glance, this seems like it’d only help our opponents not suffer from our sacrifice engine. This is partially true, but it also helps with our recursion engine. We need our opponents to have creatures die and if they have no lands, it is hard for them to keep adding creatures to the board. If we don’t have the recursion going, eventually we will fall into our own Smokestack. Once the engine gets going, helping our opponents with a 1/1 is not bad for us to get a card back. The most honorable of mentions in our cheap, super valuable card is Phyrexian Soulgorger. An 8/8 as early as turn three is pretty brutal. Sure we have to sacrifice a creature, but we are going to be doing that anyway. If that cumulative upkeep gets too high, we just sacrifice it instead.

We are in the two best ramp colors in Magic. While green is good at ramping, all those “get a land, do nothing else” cards take up spots. We are going to cut a few in order to have better synergy. It will help us more than fetching mana. Priest of Yawgmoth is a huge ace in the hole for us. We tap him, and sacrifice an artifact to get black mana equal to its converted mana cost. We are not only running artifacts though, Soldevi Adnate lets us sacrifice black creatures also.

We need ways to tutor up some cards. Everyone knows what Entomb, and Demonic Tutor do though. Jarad’s Orders does both. Grisly Salvage fills our graveyard and lets us find our pieces.

It That Betrays is one of our key cards, so From Beyond fits perfectly into or plan. It helps provide us with sacrifice fodder early game, but can fetch our Eldrazi when we are ready. Conduit of Ruin helps us out by letting us search for a colorless creature with converted mana cost 7 or greater, and decreasing our first creature spell every turn by two. It curves naturally into It that Betrays.  Kuldotha Forgemaster is a powerhouse here. We can cheat out any of big artifacts, or we can find some answers.It can even get Smokestack going for us.

While we benefit from all the sacrificing and death machines. We cannot risk falling too far behind. Occasionally Glissa might die, or we need a non-artifact card back. Dawn of the Dead is our hero here. This enchantment let's us put a creature onto the battlefield with haste and if we sacrifice before end step, the creature will stay in the graveyard to be reanimated next turn. A nice one is Kuldotha Forgemaster!

Palace Siege is our backup. While it only gets creatures back to our hand, it is never a dead card. We will almost always pick Khans, but sometimes dragons will be better in helping us stay alive. Speaking of staying alive, Grim Feast does us a world of good. The card was oracled to say “whenever a creature is put into AN opponent's graveyard we gain life equal to its toughness.” The whole plan is shove our opponents permanents into their graveyard. We will outpace even Oloro decks with this on the field!

Occasionally we are going not going to want our sacrifice machine running at full capacity. Priest of Yawgmoth can sacrifice our pieces to slow things down, but sometimes the extra mana isn’t needed. Throne of Geth fills that hole for us. It can turn up the dial on Smokestack or Tangle Wire, while at the same time tossing them if we are running behind. It also can let us turn up the infect clock, or add more -1/-1 counters on to our opponent's creatures.

Lastly we are going to protect our graveyard. Getting hit with a mass exile can cripple the deck, and potentially take us entirely out of the game. One of my pet cards for combating this is Orbs of Warding. This card not only stops almost all mass graveyard exile, but it stops a number of infinite combos. The dreaded Mike and Trike cannot target us to deal the infinite one damage, and even if they can, Orbs prevents that damage. Cards like Bojuka Bog cannot target us to “exile target player's graveyard”.

Glissa is a brutal commander. Her ability to take out high level threats with First Strike and Deathtouch is exceptional. It isn’t featured in this deck but you can make her a pinger and get to work. Getting cards back whenever ANY creature dies is absurd and causes the graveyard to becomes a true extension of our hand. Glissa being cheap allows her to be the battlefield early and often. Even if somehow she becomes to difficult to cast, we have redundancy built in to protect us.

Graveyard recursion is so popular in commander, and this deck takes full advantage of it. Rather than your opponents being rewarded for placing things in their graveyard, they are punished. Overwhelming our enemies is possible early on, and the rate at which we can generate mana means out pacing our opponents is very likely. Get out there and bring Glory to Phyrexia!!